Living Rocks of Mexico
Marcelino Castañeda (1873/4 to 1960) - a brief personal profile
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There is uncertainty of the date of Marcelino Castañeda’s birth in 1873 or 1874 because accurate records were not kept at the time.  He trained as a Civil engineer, which he followed as his profession, but had a strong passion for the cacti and other flora of his native Tamaulipas and the adjacent states of San Luis Potosí and Nuevo León.

His first wife, Consolación Romero, accompanied him many times in his botanical searches throughout the Jaumave Mountains.  He had a shack built on a ranch, "La Reja", on top of the Novillo Cañon, west of Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas.  It was in this shack that he conducted his research, and he would go there for months at a time to study and record cactus and other species.  This shack is understood still to exist as part of the ranch.

Consolación died around 1940 when Marcelino was 66 or 67.  Some years later he remarried to Carmen.  In 1960 Marcelino, probably accompanied by Carmen, had an accident on the road from Cuernavaca, Morelos, and was in hospital for a while.  He died in late December 1960 at the age of 86 and was buried on January 1st 1961.

Marcelino Castañeda spent his life wondering throughout the Huasteca of San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas, remembered for his discoveries of native Mexican plants, in particular, Obregonia denegrii in the Valley of Jaumave, accompanied by Alberto Frič in 1923, and Neogomesia agavoides, now Ariocarpus agavoides, around Tula, Tamaulipas in 1941.  In 1953 he described Mammillaria carmenae, which he found near the La Reja ranch, and which he named after his second wife.  His work was recognized as far away as Germany, were he was called "El Sabio Tamaulipeco" (The Wise Man from Tamaulipas).



Top Right: Marcelino Castañeda

Centre Right: Consolación Romero de Castañeda

Bottom Right: Guadalupe Castañeda

(All illustrations courtesy of Enrique Castillo Gil)


We are indebted to Enrique Castillo-Gil-Peña-Castañeda, the great grandson of Marcelino Castañeda, and Enrique’s grandmother (Marcelino’s daughter), Guadalupe Castañeda-Romero (1920 – 2006) for providing  the family history and photographs presented here.


Marcelino Castañeda Consolacion CastañedaGuadalupe Castañeda

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